The government and treasury of Niue have released (15th April) new collector coins which celebrate the original release of an electronic game which took the gaming world by storm: Tetris. First completed as a viable electronic game on the 6th June 1984, Tetris was originally designed and programmed by Alexey Pajitnov, a Soviet computer specialist while he was working for the Dorodnitsyn Computing Centre of the Academy of Science of the Soviet Union in Moscow. The game’s name was derived from the Greek numerical prefix tetra, or “tessara” (meaning “four”), as all of the game’s pieces contain four segments and are based on tennis, Pajitnov’s favourite sport. The name is also used in-game to refer to the play where four lines, the maximum simultaneous clearance number, are cleared at once.
Tetris was the first entertainment software to be exported from the former Soviet Union to the United States, where it was published by Spectrum HoloByte for use with the Commodore 64 and IBM PC. While versions of Tetris were sold for a variety of home computers, and especially in gaming arcades in the late 1980s, it was the handheld version for the Game Boy launched in 1989 that established the game as one of the most popular and successful video games ever. Electronic Gaming Monthly, the monthly American video game magazine, rated Tetris in first place as “Greatest Game of All Time.” In January 2010, it was announced that the games in the franchise had sold more than 170 million copies, consisting of approximately 70 million physical copies and over 100 million copies for cell phones, resulting in Tetris becoming the best-selling game of all time.
The game’s pieces, tetriminos, are conglomerations of geometric shapes composed of four square blocks each. A random sequence of Tetriminos slowly fall down the playing field, which is a rectangular vertical shaft, called the “well” or “matrix.” The objective of the game is to manipulate these tetriminos by moving each one sideways or rotating by quarter-turns so that they form a solid horizontal line without gaps. When such a line is formed, it disappears and any blocks above it fall down to fill the space. When a certain number of lines are cleared, the game enters a new level. As the game progresses, each level causes the tetriminos to fall faster, and the game ends when the stack of tetriminos reaches the top of the playing field and no new tetriminos are able to enter. Some games also end after a finite number of levels or lines.
The coins are produced by the New Zealand Mint at their facilities in Auckland on behalf of the Treasury of Niue. The design shown on the reverse is inspired by the video game itself, with the iconic tetrimino shapes on a chequered, Proof background, arranged in a way to make it appear as if they are falling, much like in the game itself. The obverse side includes an effigy of HM Queen Elizabeth II created by British sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley. The legend around the Queen’s likeness includes the issuing authority, year of release, and denomination.
|31.1 g||40 mm||Proof with applied colour||
The coin is housed inside a specially designed Tetris-themed custom case shaped like an arcade cabinet and includes a colourful image of the Kremlin, paying homage to the game’s Russian origins. The coin can be found cushioned in black felt by lifting the “cabinet” off the base, which includes a certificate of authenticity, also on its base. For additional information about this coin and others issued by the Treasury of Niue, please visit the website of the New Zealand Mint.